Reasons not to stretch

From the NY Times phys Ed blog:

Now, two new studies are giving us additional reasons not to stretch.

One, a study being published this month in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, concluded that if you stretch before you lift weights, you may find yourself feeling weaker and wobblier than you expect during your workout. Those findings join those of another new study from Croatia, a bogglingly comprehensive re-analysis of data from earlier experiments that was published in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Together, the studies augment a growing scientific consensus that pre-exercise stretching is generally unnecessary and likely counterproductive.

Many issues related to exercise and stretching have remained unresolved. In particular, it is unclear to what extent, precisely, subsequent workouts are changed when you stretch beforehand, as well as whether all types of physical activity are similarly affected.

This was about stretching before a workout. I read the article wondering what they thought about stretching after, but they didn’t mention it. They do say that this is just about ‘static stretching’ and not about warming up with jogging or other exercises that mimic the motions that you’ll be doing in the workout itself.

A better choice, he continued, is to warm-up dynamically, by moving the muscles that will be called upon in your workout. Jumping jacks and toy-soldier-like high leg kicks, for instance, prepare muscles for additional exercise better than stretching. As an unscientific side benefit, they can also be fun.

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More on the rowing….

…with some pretty pictures, because my posts are too boring otherwise.

I decided not to blow off the rest of my classes, despite my frustration, and that turned out to be a good thing. We went out in a quad and sculled with a “guest coach” – this dude Andy who rowed for Yale – and I did better, although it’s clear that I suck at sculling. I just can’t wrap my brain around both oars and what to do with them. And I was feathering completely wrong because I’ve never had a whole class that focused on doing that correctly due to all the rain outs and unhelpful weather this spring.

Sculling Single

Sculling – more oars, more problems. Plus, tippy boat.

Monday we went out in the training barge, which is I guess a bit undignified, but it sure helped ALOT – because I finally got a chance to really focus on sweep (which is what I want to do) and I got help feathering, finally, and learned what I was doing wrong; leaving the oar feathered for WAY too long before turning it back on the square and dropping the blade. This is why I was catching crabs all the time.

Sweep – one oar, one problem. More people, more stability.

The tricky part of this is that I STILL need to get what I’ve learned into muscle memory. I’m hoping to start rowing with the other adult rowers on Tuesday nights to try to get some of this down so that I feather correctly without thinking about it. That makes me a little nervous because I don’t want to be a liability for the other rowers, but I’ve got to learn somewhere.

I’ve still been going to the boathouse regularly to erg, but I’ve switched to mornings because it’s so hot in the afternoon. Here’s a little slideshow of my workouts, for your entertainment. You can see the whole photoset here.

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Rowing at a Crossroads

I’m having some frustrations with rowing lately, and I think I need to work out on paper some of my thoughts. Indoor rowing – love the heck out of it, and I plan to do it for the rest of my life. I’m looking around for a used ergometer for home so I can erg everyday.

Outdoor rowing – This is where my frustration lies. I know there’s a gap between my skill set/physical capabilities and other adult rowers in our club that are regularly out on the water. I took Learn to Row 1 and Learn to Row 2 at IRC to try to close that gap, so that I would be an asset in a boat and not a liability.

I can tell that I didn’t close that gap, so I took Learn to Row 2 a second time. It’s been a disaster, to put it mildly. We don’t have enough people in the class to take a larger boat out, so we keep ending up in a sculling boat, which is not at all what I’m interested in learning. We did go out in the quad (4 person sculling boat) and I felt like I was learning something, but that was one evening. Last night, though, we had 5 people, so we had to take out singles and try to learn to row and feather near the dock. This is the type of boat I flipped. And not what I want to learn, so I was doubtful. I managed to get out and get a bit of rowing, but my instructor had to run over to help one of the other women in a run away boat, so I didn’t get much time in. When I hopped out and my partner got in the boat, we tried to steer her perpendicular to the dock… and she flipped the boat trying to get her oars set in the water. But she blamed me, although there’s not a thing I could have done to prevent it.

So we ended the evening frustrated, without learning much, and with creating distrust between the people in the class who are supposed to learn to work as a team.

I’m ready to throw in the towel on Learn to Row 2, and just go to the boathouse to erg until I can get an erg for home, and forget about getting out in a boat altogether for now. I still want to row on the water – that was the goal from the beginning – but I just can’t seem to get the skills I need to do that well.

I’ve been looking for Rowing Clubs in the Midwest that have indoor tanks for practice – basically a boat suspended in a pool that lets you learn to manage your oars without fear of capsizing. None that I can find are close enough to drive to regularly to get training, so I’m stuck, I think, until something changes. I don’t have much confidence that I can get the instruction I need from the coaches at the boathouse, so I don’t know where to go next.

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Rowing Updates

One of my workouts

I’ve completed Learn to Row 1 and Learn to Row 2 classes at the Indianapolis Rowing Center, although we had enough rain-outs that I’m still not very comfortable on the water. I’m going to take Learn to Row 2 again this summer so I can get more of the basics down.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to do erg workouts a lot to get caught up with the other adult rowers, most of whom are in much better shape than I am. I’m usually spending about 40-48 minutes on a workout, doing intervals of workout / rest and trying to get my times lower. I’m competing against myself, for the most part, with a goal of improving to keep up with others.

I can feel the changes in my body pretty significantly. I have lost a bit of weight, and added quite a bit of muscle. It’s pretty awesome; I’m as strong as I was before my heart surgery, which is a really nice feeling.

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I really fucking love rowing

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So, I joined a rowing class for the next couple months. Not in boats, at least not for winter – it’s indoor rowing on Ergometers. It’s a class through the Indianapolis Rowing Center, and it’s their winter training through January and February. The winter classes are held at the Rivera Club near 56th and Meridian.

Concept 2 Rowing Machine
Concept 2 Rowing Machine

I’ve attended 4 classes (classes? training sessions? I don’t know) and it’s hard, but I really enjoy it. This evening we had relay races where teams of 4 people rowed intervals of 500 meters each for 5 rotations, for a total of 2,500 meters each. I actually managed to keep up through all 5 rounds; I was shocked. After the first, I thought there was no way I could do it, but I was able to make it all the way through.

And the thing is, after class, I always feel AWESOME. I have such a massive endorphin high right now. Tomorrow I’m going to be pretty stiff, but I’ll worry about that then.
I decided to look into learning rowing because I actually have a character in my NaNoWriMo novel who is a collegiate rower, and I knew that I wasn’t doing a good job writing about her competing because I had no idea what it was actually about. Reading about it can only take you so far…
What I’ll do at the end of February, I’m not sure. I’d like to row in a boat, but I’ll have to see if I’m fit enough to do that.

Rowing Sunset
Rowing Sunset
Continue ReadingI really fucking love rowing

Things I totally did not do at work

“The Tiger could be riding atop a firebolt that is dripping blood, while holding a scotch in one hand and a snickers in the other.”

Tiger's Blood Winning Winners Shirt Design
Tiger’s Blood Winning Winners Shirt Design

The results of a far-ranging discussion about what our team name and t-shirt design should be for the Global Corporate Challenge that our company is participating in at work.

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links for 2010-04-10

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